It would be fun to know, for curiosity’s sake, who came up with David Cameron’s referendum anniversary gift for Scotland. Did the brainwave originate in Downing Street, or did grist for the mill come from these parts? If the former, can we presume Scottish Tories were at least consulted?

“I know!” cried the bright spark with the office thinking cap. “We’ll promise never, ever to abolish that parliament of theirs. Better still, we’ll promise they’ll get the chance to ask us to shut the thing down if that’s what they fancy, and in a referendum, too. They like those, don’t they?”

I mock slightly because of the inevitable questions. You mean this possibility has crossed someone’s mind? You mean there’s a risk Westminster would attempt such a thing? Or are you just dressing a window, Prime Minister, to show... to show what, exactly? That devolution, such as it is, is safe? Reassuring. We have reached the point where you think you know what you’re talking about.

At a best guess, the notion of “embedding” the Holyrood settlement has been nicked from Gordon Brown. It was certainly on one of his lists of Union-saving (if not Labour-saving) constitutional devices. It came and went largely unnoticed during his big interventions for the sound reason that it seemed odd, not to say quaint, even then. Secure devolution against what, exactly? The Evening Standard?

Arguments over the principle of devolution were done long before Mr Brown made his pitch. They are entirely irrelevant now. While it’s still true that some of us do indeed like a referendum – others, not so much – the next one won’t be staged to decide Holyrood’s fate. Just as some urged a year ago, we have moved on. The emerging choice becomes plainer by the day: it’s the federalism thing, or the independence thing.

That didn’t take long, did it? Just a year. And it hardly hurt a bit. A supposedly decisive referendum seems to have decided precious little. Unionists are, if anything, more anxious than ever. Nicola Sturgeon is busy laying out the facts of life as she sees them – because she can – and Mr Cameron is blustering like a pizza delivery boy insisting that your order has been filled.

That might be why, if we must do anniversaries, I prefer today. On 19 September last year several things became clear pretty quickly. There was Mr Cameron up with the lark on the Downing Street step to promise English votes for English laws - “That’ll do it,” I muttered – and confound his recent allies. There was delight (mistaken) in some quarters and misery (equally mistaken) in others. Looking at the numbers, I just thought, “Not bad, for a first attempt”.

The result, patently, was far closer than Better Together folk had hoped. By no stretch could the business be described as settled – hence all the hysteria over “moving on” - and there was no chance that everything represented by Yes would dissipate. For a footnote, it was obvious, or still more obvious, that Labour was in deep, abysmal trouble in Scotland.

Well, I say “obvious”. Anyone who predicted what was about to happen to Scottish National Party membership numbers has bought a fleet of gold-plated yachts, I trust, with the winnings. My own pathetic best guess for SNP’s seats in the May election was meanwhile a cheapskate “four dozen, give or take”. The Brahan Seer’s reputation is safe.

Like others, there’s a part of my life spent writing about hung parliaments that I’ll never get back. The fall of Ed Miliband was not foreseen. The idea so many voters in England would get so spooked even by talk of a deal between Labour and the SNP was not on the radar. Unfettered, outright Tory government and the appearance of Jeremy Corbyn as a Labour leadership contender was a fantasy (especially to Mr Corbyn) when votes were being cast on May 7.

Yesterday, Ms Sturgeon gave her prognosis for the United Kingdom. Strictly speaking, she spoke of Mr Cameron, and said he is living on borrowed time. What she meant was that the days of the Union are numbered if the Prime Minister’s party remains in power and sticks with the policies that have become its unappetising signature dishes.

You can reduce the argument further: if Mr Corbyn fails to take Labour into government and Scotland is stuck with the Tories for another generation, things will come to a head. If there is no alternative in sight, where are the benefits of Union?

For some, this is familiar territory. Here we are, once again, with Conservatives in charge. This electorate is not well-disposed towards them (one Scottish MP, 14.9 per cent of the Scottish vote). We are wedded to self-government, but divided over the degree required. Meanwhile, Mr Cameron and friends impose brutish social and economic policies. They would have us house a new nuclear weapons system. Some of them would drag us out of the European Union, like it or not. Who needs it?

It’s all familiar, no doubt, but also fundamental. The voters of England seem very inclined to vote Tory, given a chance; the voters of Scotland do not. It couldn’t be, surely, that the survival of the Union depends on Mr Corbyn? Stranger things (and all that). The simple fact is that if Labour fails to become plausible north and south of the Border, arguments over powers for Holyrood will be the least of it. Never mind the relationship between Mr Corbyn and his MPs: voting patterns in England write the Union’s obituary.

The alternative, still available, is the big offer: maximum devolution, home rule, a federal solution, whatever you choose to call it. Put aside the problem of constructing such a system when disparities in the sizes of countries are so pronounced. All the pre-referendum evidence said that a majority of Scots were keen. It is a safe bet, at any rate, that Unionists will not be so quick to keep the choice off the voting paper next time.

But quibble a little. Let’s say you have prised away all tax and spending save in reserved matters. Let’s believe you control all domestic policy, energy and the welfare state included. Let’s imagine you have sorted out a relationship with the Bank of England and gained a vote in monetary issues. Let’s presume you have won the right to be heard in foreign and defence matters. Why are you in this UK exactly?

As we were reminded a year ago, some people like being British. They warm themselves on the emotions it inspires. That aside, Unionism has not evolved much. It continues to talk itself into a corner. Scotland could not afford independence, says its abacus. So if British is good, being too poor is also good? And staying too poor is therefore the very best way to avoid the self-determination calamity?

I look forward to hearing all about it during the next referendum campaign. Unionists, interestingly, would not say the same. There are other things to think about, they rightly insist. And there is the fact that next time they will lose. They know it, too.